Bono group: Italy, France undermining G8 pledges to Africa

12th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Ahead of next month's Group of Eight summit, the group One said the world's richest countries had delivered only a third of the extra aid they promised by 2010, despite being two-thirds of the way to their deadline.

London -- Italy and France are so far behind on their aid pledges to Africa that they threaten to cause the entire G8 to miss its targets, an advocacy group set up by Irish rock star Bono said Thursday.

Ahead of next month's Group of Eight summit in Italy, the group One said the world's richest countries had delivered only a third of the extra aid they promised by 2010, despite being two-thirds of the way to their deadline.

In its 2009 DATA report One -- launched by the U2 singer turned development activist and backed by figures including Bill Gates, Bob Geldof and Desmond Tutu -- said Italy and France were responsible for 80 percent of the shortfall.

"Some G8 nations made encouraging progress last year towards fulfilling the commitments they made at the 2005 Gleneagles summit to fight extreme poverty in Africa," said the report, presented in London.

"But two G8 members -- Italy and France -- are performing so poorly that they are threatening to cause the G8 as a whole to default."

The annual report measures the G8 against commitments made at their 2005 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland. The group pledged 21.5 billion dollars of additional aid to sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2010.

One said the G8 had paid out seven billion dollars by the end of 2008 and were due to reach only 10.5 billion dollars by the end of this year.

The report came the day before finance ministers from the G8 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- were due to meet for two days of talks in Lecce, southern Italy.

The talks will pave the way for a G8 summit on July 8-10 in the Italian city of L'Aquila, epicentre of an April 6 earthquake which killed some 300 people.

The DATA report found that while the United States, Canada and Japan were meeting their commitments and Britain and Germany were pushing hard to meet more ambitious targets, Italy had paid out only three percent of the aid increase it had promised.

Rock star turned activist Geldof said the Italian government was a "crowd of shysters" with no legitimacy as this year's G8 chair.

"That their economy is in such a disastrous meltdown condition, they must steal from the poor, rob the ill and snatch education from the minds of the young not only beggars the imagination but must also surely beggar the soul of that most beautiful country. Shame on you," he said.

The report said the G8 was delivering on debt cancellation and had taken small steps on promoting investment, while so-called "smarter" aid flows were achieving results in combating AIDS, malaria and illiteracy.

However, it found the group was largely failing on trade commitments.

"It saddens me and angers me that great nations like Italy and France are going in the wrong direction," said Archbishop Tutu of South Africa.

"We must all campaign to encourage the forthcoming G8 meetings to do better and do what is right."

Though US President Barack Obama has been focusing on Washington's relations with the Muslim world of late, Microsoft founder Gates praised him for keeping to pledges on Africa made by his White House predecessor George W. Bush.

"Obama has been quite good on aid issues... so far it's very impressive how he's kept it on the agenda," said the world's richest man.

Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian former United Nations secretary-general, said in a video message that Africa played no part in creating the global economic crisis but its billion people stood to suffer the worst.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned the global economic crisis will deal a blow to Africa, where the economy is forecast to grow 2.8 percent this year -- half of its level in 2008.

Robin Millard/AFP/Expatica

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